14-year-old Andrew Mason was at his Las Vegas home with his younger brother and sister, both age 6, when he heard two men gain entry to the family’s home. The young man and his family had practiced what they would do in the event someone had broken into their home and the 14-year-old sprang into action.
Andrew told the media, “I went upstairs and grabbed my brother and told him to hide in the closet. I grabbed a cell phone off my dad’s dresser, grabbed my rifle and hid in the closet with my brother.”
Unfortunately, the intruders heard the movement of the kids and made their way towards the closet they were hiding in. However, when they opened the closet door Andrew pointed the rifle at the two men who immediately took off running out of the house.
According to Andrew’s father, Kiewa Mason, “He’s excellent. He did everything perfectly. He couldn’t have done better, and he’s actually a hero.” The fact is, this proud father is right and his son handled the situation extremely well, especially for being such a young age.
I’m sure we all have children, grandchildren, family members, or close friends who leave their kids home alone at the appropriate age. With this in mind, I want to share with you some ways to help keep kids safe when they are home alone.
Don’t broadcast. While you may want to share on social media that you are going to a great concert or dinner while the kids stay home, this is obviously terrible idea. Criminals unquestionably use social media to their advantage and if they know kids are home alone they may think your house is now an easy target.
So, don’t share certain things on social media until after the fact. Even though you may think all of your Facebook friends are great people, you never know who has access to their account and may see your post.
Set the alarm. I’m a huge fan of security systems and if your kids are home alone there shouldn’t be any reason they need to go outside. This is why you want to set your security alarm so that the motion inside the home is disabled, but that the alarm will go off if any doors or windows are opened. (This is typically called “stay mode” on most alarm systems.)
Obviously, you want to make sure the children know how to arm and disarm the security system but this is another added layer to make sure no one enters or leaves.
Don’t investigate. One of the latest crime trends in major cities is that criminals try to draw the homeowner outside. For example, they will make a loud noise on the side of a home, hoping the homeowner will come outside to investigate, at which point, the criminals can gain access to the home. You want to make sure your children don’t go outside and that their curiosity doesn’t get the best of them.
Set up communication checks. Depending on the age of the children, you will want to check on them regularly while they are alone. This could be every 30 minutes or every hour depending on their age. The idea is you want to tell them that they need to answer the phone and check in otherwise you will assume something is wrong.
Practice safe room. Like the story mentioned above, you should devise a plan with your kids on what they will do if they hear someone in the house. They should have a place to hide and a way to call for help. In addition, if your kids are at an appropriate age, you should teach them how to defend themselves with a firearm, baseball bat, knife or even a tactical pen.
The bottom line is, many parents and grandparents work, or they want to enjoy a nice dinner, or simply can’t be home with their kids all the time. Of course, having an older sibling watch the younger kids is a great babysitter, but make sure they are prepared in case something goes wrong.